Diesel Company Fined $1M for Making Illegal Truck Modifications

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Apr 21, 2024

A company has been hit with a massive fine for violating federal laws.

The company allegedly illegally modified vehicles during the government’s attempts to curb environmental impacts from vehicle emissions.

Sinister Diesel Found Guilty

The California truck maker, Sinister Diesel, was found guilty of making and selling devices that override the smog controls on diesel trucks.

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They pleaded guilty to conspiracy and breaking the Clean Air Act by selling the tampered machinery.


The Million Dollar Fine

Under the plea agreement, as reported by the U.S. attorney’s office, the company will pay $500,000 for a criminal fine for the charges of conspiracy.

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Another payment of $500,000 will be given to the U.S. Government after breaking the Clean Air Act.

What Are Pollution Control Systems?

Every diesel vehicle comes equipped with certain mechanics to control the amount of emissions that come from the engine.

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Due to the harsh chemicals that diesel vehicles emit, they all have small pieces of machinery installed by the factory that convert harmful NOx gas into nitrogen which poses no threat to humans when inhaled.

The Clean Air Act

In 1970 the original Clean Air Act (CAA) was passed in the U.S. to get control of air pollution.

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Harmful pollutants in the air started to become a massive problem due to the increase of factories and daily car commutes for most Americans.

Sinister Diesel’s Tampering Devices

For the past 10 years, the company has been making and selling small pieces of equipment that they call “delete devices”.

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The divides are meant to bypass the pollution controls on tailpipes on diesel vehicles to emit large amounts of toxic fumes.


Customers Use the Devices for Strange Practices

As reported by the AP, customers use the devices to take part in a practice called “coal rolling”.

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Rolling coal is the practice of revving the engine to release a huge plume of black smoke into the air. The behavior is generally considered aggressive or a nuisance to other drivers.


Tampering Devices Are Problematic for Multiple Reasons

Although the company knew what they were doing was wrong as per the CAA and that they could be fined, the discovery presents a bigger issue.

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By tampering with the controls and allowing customers to take part in coal rolling, the company effectively worsened air quality and contributed directly to pollution and greenhouse gasses.


Diesel Pollution Is Especially Bad

Although emissions from cars come with their own set of worries around health, diesel gas is particularly harmful to humans.

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Diesel from trucks creates particles related to respiratory illnesses like asthma and lung cancer.


Fines Are a Deterrent To Other Companies

The massive $1 million fine is meant to serve as a deterrent to other companies and customers who take part in the practice and sell similar devices.

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Pollution is an aggregate problem and worsens with an increased number of people taking part in it.


Future of the Company

For now, Sinister Diesel is still operating as normally. Although it’s unclear how the fine will affect their daily operations.

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As well, it was not disclosed how much of their income came from selling the devices. The immediate stop on production could hurt their bottom line.


Investing in Cleaner Technologies

The crackdown on diesel tampering devices comes at a time when businesses and the government are investing more money than ever into clean tech.

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Electric cars, bikes, and even 15-minute cities made for walking reduce emissions and gas intake by millions of barrels everyday.